Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 38

As I turned 38 weeks I felt back on track. I had reflexology with Jessie again and she brought me some more lovely oils.  Saturday was St Patrick's Day, but it was freezing so I brought the boys to the cinema to see Peter Rabbit. I thought between the parades and rugby match we would be the only people in the country there....I was wrong! We had to queue for 45 minutes for the tickets and book for the next viewing (in 40 minutes) so we hung around. The movie was very good and it was great to get out and about for the afternoon. 

Sunday brought more snow so we chilled out at home for the day. The boys didn’t even want to go out and play in it, they were totally over the whole snow thing. In fairness it was fairly blustery and yuck out so I didn’t blame them. 

On Monday Leon headed off to his friends birthday party in a play centre and Seth went to his friends for a play (they ended up going to Jump Zone and had a ball). While they were gone I did lots of Spinning Babies and some lunges/squats and sorted out the washing and a few bits around the house. After the party one of Leons friends came to ours for the afternoon and they played away.   

On Tuesday I had a real “get this baby back into position” day. It started with reflexology, then I went for a good walk, then I had shiatsu with Joanne Faulkner and used Moxa sticks to try to encourage baby to come back head down. I ended the day with spinning babies and then a bath with essential oils and listening to “perfect positioning” on my Gentlebirth app.

Our Cork DoulaCare Ireland team from l-r: Zoe, Mary, Claire and Jacquie at our Meet the Doula Event for World Doula Week in Cork. 

Our Cork DoulaCare Ireland team from l-r: Zoe, Mary, Claire and Jacquie at our Meet the Doula Event for World Doula Week in Cork. 

Wednesday I spent the morning dropping items for our World Doula Week events off to our doulas. I got a phone call from my GP to say my bloods showed that I have extremely low B12 and need to start a coure of B12 injections as soon as possible. She told me to go straight to her after my check up in the hospital. I am glad as I have been feeling very tired and breathless (presuming it was just normal end of pregnancy stuff). Hopefully with the injections I will feel a boast of energy before baby arrives.  Then I rushed back to take a DoulaCare Ireland conference call with a new business prospect. Mary and I are constantly working on growing the business end of things, while ensuring our clients remain at the heart of everything we do. We are excited to hopefully share some news over the next month or two! I finished the day with some body work and more Moxa sticks before bed. 

Thursday brought my hospital appointment. I dropped the boys to school and headed into the Rotunda. The midwives were all lovely and supportive as always. I met a new midwife called Bridget who spent a good bit of time with me asking how I felt and giving me space and time to chat. This midwifery support is so important in antenatal care (especially for me as I had wanted midwifery led care to begin with). They are all so kind and patient and really offer mothers space and time to process their emotions and get a clear focus on their thoughts.

When I saw my consultant she confirmed baby was still in an unstable lie, and my amniotic fluid levels were officially polyhydraminos (a medical term for too much fluid). The two combined creates a dangerous situation for baby, in that if my waters were to release the cord could get flushed out ahead of the baby. Of course the umbilical cord provides oxygen to the baby so that would not be a good situation if I was at home. She broke the news that I would need to be admitted . I negotiated heading home to pack a bag and explain to the kids what was happening. I collected them from school, then brought them both to McDonalds for a treat and we had a good chat. They both understood that both the baby and I were fine it was just for the doctors to keep an eye on things. I packed a bag and when Paul came home from work he drove me in. I was feeling pretty gutted as my mind movie of labouring at home, supported by Mim and Paul slipped away. The kids, especially Seth really wanted to be there too – Seth even learned how to do some back massages for the big day!  

The antenatal ward was pretty busy on arrival but the staff were all lovely. I had all the routine checks and everything was really good with baby and I. I have all my positive tools with me (Ear phones to listen to GentleBirth tracks, essential oils to keep my senses calm, my laptop to keep my mind busy writing or watching movies, books and so on). 

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On Saturday 24th at 38+6 weeks I lost my mucus plug, just as I was settling down for the night. I went into spontaneous labour (while on the antenatal ward).  Baby Kayla Rose arrived just over 3 hours later in an intense and quick, intervention free VBAC. She weighed 8lb 2oz and instantly we were head over heals in love. Birth story to follow soon x

Kayla Rose getting skin to skin after a very fast VBAC birth in the Rotunda Hospital 

Kayla Rose getting skin to skin after a very fast VBAC birth in the Rotunda Hospital 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 36

Celebrating Seth's birthday

Celebrating Seth's birthday

The weekend kicked off with Seths birthday party – the snow was beginning to thaw but about half his friends still couldn’t make it. Seth didn’t seem to mind and had a great time with his pals that came. Paul’s mam is in Lanzarote this week and couldn’t get a flight home with the weather, so is staying an extra week. After the party Bren came down and we all got take away and watched a movie. It was a lovely day and I was delighted Seth was happy with his birthday week. 

On Monday I had a terrible attack, it felt like a gall bladder attack with pain shooting through my back and high up on my tummy/chest. I took to the bed with hot water bottles and willed it to pass. I was getting sick and was feeling pretty rough. I had my gall bladder removed after I had Seth (pregnancy related, after several severe attacks including one trip to A&E). I was due with my GP for my 36 week check anyway so I spoke with her and she thinks it was just bad gastritis – as I will always have that weakness now my gall bladder is gone. She gave me a prescription for renitidine to take if I need it. I have decided not to take it unless I have another attack. 

At the check up she checked on baby. She is still measuring a bit bigger but my GP is fab and has no issues with that. She always makes really positive comments like “she is a good strong baby, it’s wonderful to see.” Baby’s heartbeat was perfect and as always she was kicking and moving away so all was well. I was thrilled to hear this. Baby is still sitting in a posterior position but is well down at the pelvis now so hopefully with a bit of luck she will turn soon or in labour. Before I left I got a blood test, as my GP wanted to give me a full screening due to the pain I experienced. I felt much better after the appointment. 

Jen, bump and Johanna King 

Jen, bump and Johanna King 

During the week my family had our photo shoot with Johanna King Photography. It was brilliant! She has a documentary style photography and captures moments and memories in our normal family life. We did some homework, made scones and played a board game. All things we do often. We dressed in our normal clothes and didn’t get “done up” like we would typically do for photos. Johanna had such a lovely way about her. She made everyone, including the kids so relaxed and we almost forgot she had a camera. We all just chatted away and she snapped at leisure (no extra lights or flash) It was so special to us, to have an opportunity to capture our lives as a family of four – in this transition phase. It has just been us and the boys for so long, it is wonderful to freeze that moment in time forever. We are so excited to see the finished product and can’t wait for her to come back and capture some precious moments when our little girl joins our family. If you are in any way on the fence about getting family/maternity/new baby photos done please do get in touch with Johanna! I guarantee you will not be disappointed – PLUS Johanna is offering a special discount to anyone who quotes DoulaCare Ireland when booking – so get in touch ;)

Later in the week we had my Nan and Pauls dad down for dinner. My Nan lives alone and Paul's Mam is still in Lanzarote so we had them both down to pass the evening. Paul did them a lovely roast beef and we did roast potatoes, yorkshires and veg. It was yummy (I am vegetarian so didn’t eat the beef but the rest was delicious).

After they left my friend Gwen and her husband Cian called over with “a few bits for the baby”. Well....as Cian arrived and kept going back to the car I was a little shocked but secretly thrilled. Gwen had sorted through her three girls baby clothes and brought about 8 bags worth over. All I could think was “Paul is going to go mad” as we have a fairly small house and there is stuff everywhere as it is! But actually he was pretty happy as h was worried our daughter would look like a boy in all the clothes I kept from Seth and Leon LOL. I will hopefully have time to go through the bags over the weekend and get any newborn items washed and ready. After a quick scan there seems to be everything from newborn to 2 years! Lots of lovely girly stuff too so baby will have a nice mix of clothes :) 

I’m edging my way to ‘term’ now (37-42 weeks) and I have to say I am so ready to meet my baby. With the boys I really wanted to stay pregnant as I loved it and I do feel I may have held onto them by not fully releasing my body to labour. I have really enjoyed feeling my little girl move and the special bond we share. There is something so magical about being so connected, with just us. I have, as you all know, struggled physically this pregnancy and I do feel happy now to meet my little girl. I have just got in some supplies to help prepare my body for labour.

Until next time...Jen x

 

Week 36: What is Happening To Your Baby

  • Your baby is the now the length of a romaine lettuce 
  • At the end of this week your baby will be considered full term. 
  • If your baby is still in the breech position you may be scheduled for an ECV this week (a procedure to manually turn the baby into the head down position). 
  • Their skull is still not fused together - to help you birth your baby into the world during labour. (This won't happen until after baby is born). 
  • Your baby's digestive system is still not fully formed - and actually it won't be until after baby is born. This is because as your baby has been using the umbilical cord for nutrition, their digestive system doesn't work inside the womb. It will take about a year or two after birth for it to be fully developed. 

 

Week 36: What is Happening To Your Body

  • You may find it easier to eat smaller meals more often as your baby is taking up so much space it can be hard to eat full sized portions. 
  • If your baby has dropped down into your pelvis - while this can free up your breathing it may make walking more of a challenge (and give you the feeling you are waddling!
  • Your lower back especially may be aching. It can be helpful to schedule some body work this week to help support you. 

Week 36: Pregnancy Tip 

How do you feel about dates? The fruit that is!!! Well now is the time to start developing a taste for them as studies have found that women who ate up to 6 dates a day for the four weeks leading up to their EDD were more likely to go into labour spontaneously.  Other findings included a shorter labour and more likely to avoid using Syntocin/Pitocin (a synthetic hormone used to induce or speed up labour). 

They are high in sugar - so would need to be avoided if you have Gestational Diabetes. It also can be tough to eat 6 dates a day, so we recommend making some energy bars. This recipe is very yummy!!! It's a firm favourite with the kids in my house (and they would be quite discerning in what they eat). (Mary). 

What Is A Birth Doula and Why Might You Want One?

What Is A Birth Doula and Why Might You Want One?

"It is absolutely worth hiring a doula. You get more than just someone supporting you and your partner at the birth. And you have a team behind you. Whilst it might seem like a luxury to get a doula, the service really makes a significantly positive contribution to both the mother's and partner's birthing experience. It's a decision that you won't regret, and having had a doula, it is hard to imagine not using the service again. It goes beyond just the birthing experience."

Read More

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 34

This weekend started off with a trip into town with the kids to see the Chinese new year celebrations. We went to where we thought it was, but the lady told me that is was on further down town. So we walked and walked but couldn’t find anything happening. I was in bits with my pelvic girdle pain and Leon's little legs were so sore. We sat down near the Liffy and had the sandwiches and crisps I had packed. We continued to walk but could not find anything. I started to ask people – eventually one person told us it was on next weekend (if you could have seen my face!) We had been in town about 3 hours at this point...aimlessly walking LOL I put on my Mary Poppins cheery voice - “That’s ok guys, sure we have had a great adventure and it was much better than sitting at home all day” They didn’t look too convinced. We went and had a hot chocolate and cake in a cafe. Then we pottered around some shops. We got a taxi back up toward the Ilac car park (where the car was) as I was fighting back tears with the pain, while trying to remain outwardly cheery. 

To say it was a disaster is an understatement, but I racked up almost 22,000 steps on my fitbit!

On Tuesday I went to my first physiotherapy appointment. I was actually surprised how bad I was when she started her assessment – trying to stand on one leg was near impossible without feeling like crumpling onto the floor. She told me my thighs and lower back muscles were overtight trying to compensate for the weakness in my pelvis. She worked on easing that tension (which was super painful, I was literally sweating) She then gave me exercises to strengthen my hips/pelvis. She also gave me a different belt for the symptios pubis. She had mentioned my pelvic floor was too tight, and that could have had an impact on my previous two births. I have always been very conscious of doing pelvic floor exercisers, as my grandmother has severe incontinence. Apparently I have been over doing it and a pelvic floor that is too tight can cause as much issues as a weak one. I had never heard this so I was grateful for the information. I felt better after the appointment, armed with some tips to help before birth.

Mary doing a Google Hangouts session with myself and Paul on VBAC support and birth options. It was really helpful 

Mary doing a Google Hangouts session with myself and Paul on VBAC support and birth options. It was really helpful 

Wednesday evening brought another GoogleHangouts call with Mary. We chat weekly, keeping up the running of DoulaCare. This time there was a difference...it was to chat with myself and Paul about our labour and birth. Mary offered Paul some wonderful tips and explained hospital policy and so on. I was amazed at how little Paul had taken in from me (as we had covered it all before!) He seemed to get really engaged in the conversation when it was coming from our Doula and took away some great understanding of the difference in policy around a VBAC mum.  It was really nice for us both to chat with Mary too, as I spend so much time on the phone/laptop with her ;)

On Thursday I had my 34 week check up in the Rotunda. I was called by the doctor first (normally I see the midwife first) He was a lovely young reg who was open to listening to me. I had my birth preferences with me in the hope we could get them signed off but he told me I needed to speak with Claire Burke at my next visit as she was the consultant.  He measured my belly, which measured 36 weeks. So he did a quick scan, measured baby saying she was measuring a week ahead but I did have a lot of amniotic fluid which is making my bump bigger. He seemed happy enough. I felt things were going well and then, as often obstetricians do...he came out with his random gem... 

So apparently at my 38 week appointment they will check if my cervix is favourable, if it is they would schedule an ARM (breaking my waters to induce labour) I sat shocked for a nano scond. Then I asked why they would intend on doing this, as a VBAC mum ARM is the only induction method I could have so if contractions didn’t begin he would basically be signing me up for a caesarean birth. He was a bit taken back by my reply. He said everything would of course be a discussion with me at the time and it would ultimately be my decision but the reason he would suggest it would be to “avoid another big baby getting stuck” 

He was a lovely young doctor, who clearly wanted to respect my wishes but perhaps was so institutionalised he presumed by offering interventions he would be saving my preference for a vaginal birth. 

After the doctor I waited for another hour to see the midwife to get my blood pressure and urine tested. All was well. I met a gorgeous midwife Jeannine, who is such a warm and caring woman. She is an active advocate for women and midwives – trying to maintain surroundings to facilitate normal birth. We recognised each other from social media and attending workshops and seminars. She was so lovely and listened to me with such kindness, encouraging me to stay strong and voice my wishes for my birth experience. The Rotunda really have some amazing midwives in their semi private clinic and I would encourage everyone to speak with the midwives about any concerns if you feel your doctor had not heard you. 

On Friday myself and Paul had our second antenatal with Mim. It was great to get her feedback on the situation as I know I am too close to see clearly (and probably think rationally) We had a really good chat about Paul's role in the birth and he felt so much better afterwards. She spoke to him about his chat with Mary and helped him to get everything clear in his head. Again, Paul was so engaged with Mim and opened up so much about his feelings around the birth. I was thrilled to have our Doulas facilitate that and allow us to find a balance and to feel prepared. 

That night Paul said he wasn’t sure if he had been brainwashed with all our Doula speak, but he was feeling so much better about the birth and even feels excited now that he knows how to support me while still ensuring both baby and I are safe. It was so lovely to hear – that’s what Doula support offers!

I attended a meeting at the end of the week to plan for World Doula Week. One of our team Lorna has extensive marketing experience and we also met with one of DoulaCare Irelands past client's who is an expert in the field of PR and campaign strategies. It was an amazing morning. We really focused in on what we want to achieve and how to go about it. Mary and I are so grateful for all the support we have surrounding us, helping us to learn and grow. 

This week Mary was also invited onto Cork's 96FM Opinion Line as a Mum had contacted worried about her distance from the hospital and how she would manage in labour. Mary had a lovely chat with P.J who was very interested in the idea of a doula. You can listen back here to the interview: 

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Until next time...Jen x

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What Is Happening With Your Baby: 

 

  • Your baby is the size of a cantaloupe this week. 
  • Their brain is fully developed by this stage and if they need to be born baby's usually do really well (they may have to go to Special Care for a day or two but most have very few issues thankfully). 
  • They are becoming rounder as fat layers continue to develop. These will help your baby regulate their body temperature outside of the womb.
  • Your baby's lungs are still continuing to mature. 
  • Their fingernails are almost fully formed. 
  • If this is your first baby they may have 'engaged' which means they are head down and they are pressed deep into your pelvis ready for the birth. 

Week 34: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • Exhaustion has probably kicked in again by this week (if it hasn't already!). A combination of hormones, restless nights (with lots of disturbance as you try to get comfortable or breaks to go to the toilet frequently). Your body will want to slow down - do listen to it
  • You may have blurry vision. Or your eyes may be extra dry (due to a decrease in tear production). These changes are usually temporary though. Again this is all due to hormone changes which will readjust after baby arrives. Pop into your optician and get some eye drops and don't forget to let your HCP know if you have any issues with your vision so they can check it out. 
  • Your breasts may feel heavier. 
  • If your baby has engaged any breathlessness you may have been feeling will ease off and you will be able to breathe more freely. 

 

Week 34: Pregnancy Tip 

Perineal Massage

If you are a first time Mum there is some evidence that that Perineal Massage may help reduce your risk of tearing (have a read of this article for more information). If you are going to give it a try use a plant based oil (try to make sure it is unrefined. Mary our co- owner sells a perineal massage oil blend that you can find over on her website). 

This is a good step by step article on how to do Perineal Massage 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 32

This week brought sickness to my house. Paul and the kids were all very sick with flu. Leon (our youngest) was so drained he couldn’t walk! We had to carry him to the toilet. This from a child you normally cannot keep still for 5 minutes was very worrying. They all lay around on the sofa or in their beds, watching movies and snoozing. I miraculously avoided it completely! I’m wondering if the flu vaccine protected me or if I was just lucky as I am taking lots of vitamins and supplements. 

I took the opportunity to start sorting out and washing baby clothes. I donated huge amounts to charity, but was delighted there were lots I could use from the boys. I did keep a mix of blues, yellows, greens etc in newborn sizes and there was a good bit of white too. It was so lovely to see all the little babygrows and vests drying around the house. I was very emotional remembering the boys in certain outfits and really began to get excited about this little girls arrival. The tiny socks and booties always get me right in the heart strings :) 

This week I met up with two past clients for breakfast. One was a mum of twins who I worked closely with throughout their pregnancy and for the first few months of their boys' lives. It was wonderful to catch up and see how well the boys were doing. I even got to cuddle them both and we held one sleeping baby each as we chatted and ate. It was great! When leaving my client gave me such a beautiful gift and the two of us fought back tears when saying goodbye. The bond we have is so lovely and I look forward to meeting up again soon. 

I also met another client and her husband later in the week who has a special place in my heart. I worked with them throughout pregnancy (they attended my Cuidiu antenatal course) and for the first few months of their daughter's life. Their baby was gravely ill when born and they had to travel to another country for specialist treatment. It was a rollercoaster of emotions for them and I walked that journey beside them, offering support every step of the way. When they returned I worked with them for a number of months, watching their beautiful daughter grow stronger and helping them both deal with the trauma they had lived. They are writing a blog to share their experience for World Doula Week so watch this space! 

With DoulaCare Ireland Doula  Emer McGlade  and  Gail Tully  from Spinning Babies 

With DoulaCare Ireland Doula Emer McGlade and Gail Tully from Spinning Babies 

Over the weekend I attended the Spinning Babies Workshop, in the Glenroyal Hotel. It was full of like minded birth professionals (mostly midwives and Doulas, with one chiropractor) and lots of friends and familiar faces to catch up with.

It was a fantastic day and I gained lots of useful information from it. I was however extremely sore sitting for the day and so left early (as I had my friends 40th that evening to attend). I could barely drive the 35 minutes home and hobbled into the house. I lay down for a while and Paul ran me a bath to try to help the pain. I relaxed into the warm water and listening to my GentleBirth tracks. The pain wouldn’t let up so unfortunately I had to miss the night with my friends. I felt awful but there was no way I could make it. 

I had a GP check up and she said it sounds like a mix of round ligament pain and SPD (or pelvic gurdle pain) She recommended a physiotherapist in Sutton Cross that specilises in the area. I called and booked in. Looking forward to the support. I will let you know how that goes. In the meantime I ordered a pregnancy support band to take some of the pressure off my ligaments. It is giving me great relief and I am getting longer into the day before the pain makes me lie down. (photos/video from facebook) 

Next week myself and Paul have a night away planned for our babymoon! So I am very excited about that. 

Until next time....Jen x 

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Week 32: What Is Happening To Your Baby

  • Your baby is the size of a Papaya this week
  • Your baby will gain put to half of her birth week in these last few weeks 
  • There is much less room to move inside you anymore
  • Your baby now has fingernails, toenails and some will have hair on their head
  • Most of your baby's bones have now hardened. The exception to this is the skull which will have soft spots (fontanelles) to help make the birth of your baby that bit easier. The fontanelles make sure the baby's head can fit through the birth canal easier.
  • Your baby is doing lots of practise to prepare for life outside of you. They are kicking, sucking, swallowing and breathing trying to refine the skills they will be needing in a few weeks when they are born. 

 

Week 32: What Might Be Happening To your Body

  • Your blood volume has increased by up to 50 % since you got pregnant - this can mean a drop in Iron for some women and you may have to take Iron supplements if it drops too low. 
  • You may feel less co-ordinated as your growing uterus shifts your sense of gravity and can make you clumsy, change your posture and put strain on your lower back. 
  • Your nipples and areola might darken - why we are not fully sure. 
  • You may notice increased vaginal discharge. This serves the purpose of preventing infection 
  • If you have an 'innie' belly button, you may find it is now an 'outie' with the increased size of your belly. Don't worry - this will usually revert back to what is normal for you after the birth of the baby. 

Week 32: Pregnancy Tip 

If you have pets such as a dog or a cat , you need to begin preparing them for the arrival of your new baby. As they are probably used to being the centre of attention, it can be a huge stress for them when you bring home baby and have no time for them anymore. Pets like dogs or cats are already very connected to us and so they will have sensed that something is different. They do need to be prepared for the changes to come though and this is best done before baby arrives. We will have a blog post coming soon on this topic - so keep an eye on the blog. 

Top Tips on Writing Birth Preferences

Writing your birth preferences is important to do for a number of reasons:  
1. It gives you time and space to think about what you want for your birth
2. It opens communication between you and your birth support team
3. It helps you to familiarise yourself with hospital policies
4. You have time to compare policies with national guidelines, international guidelines and evidence based research.
5. It gives you a tool to remain in control and make informed decisions
 

Key points when writing your birth preferences

Woman taking notes.jpg

Keep your language open and positive. You have a chance to create the atmosphere you wish to birth in. Positivity is key and opens on a good relationship with your team.

Know your chosen hospitals policies. Each hospital has different policies around key factors in labour and birth. You are free to question these and even change hospital if you feel better suited to a different standard of care.

Know the HSE (national) and international guidelines / best practice / evidence. This is key. If you know what the evidence says then you can make an unbiased informed decision, rather than being swept along with a phrase such as “that’s the way we have always done it here”

Keep it to 10 points, or less. Anything more will negate the things that are important to you.

Don’t bother putting things in that are already policy in your chosen hospital (ie drinking water during labour) Again if you are familiar with your hospitals policies then you can avoid this.

Think about the atmosphere you want to birth in. Would you like the lights dimmed, music playing, limit the number of people in the room etc Or are you happy to have lights on, student midwives and doctors in the room etc?

Be firm on the points that are non negotiable for you once all is OK with baby (i.e. if you absolutely do not want an episotomy and would rather have a natural tear if it came to it). Some decisions need to be made in a split second and having discussions around the really important issues before hand are vital.

Create birth preferences for a Caesarean Birth preferences as well. This is a good idea for all the same reasons that are mentioned here. You can have the discussions, make informed decisions and then ‘park it’ to one side. You have your just in case covered, remaining in control. Then you can shift your focus back to the birth you visualise. It can be on the next page so your focus is not necessarily on this outcome if you are not planning to have an elective Caesarean, but it does mean that if things don't turn out as you had hoped you have something written up to help you create a dialogue with staff. 

Create your birth preferences with your birth partner. This is important as they will be your advocate for the day. Being aware of what you want and why will help them be a better advocate for you. 

Bring multiple copies so you have them for shift changes. Make sure your partner is aware they need to ask the team caring for you to read through them and discuss them with you both. 

Finally knowledge is power as they say - but trust in the process is also important. All the above are important and give you the knowledge to discover what you want for your birth. It gets the discussion out of the way before labour begins, as during labour it's important to park the conscious brain as much as you can. You body and your baby know what to do, they are an awesome team, made to work together. Let your advocate voice your preferences and allow yourself to go with your labour journey.

Here at Doulacare Ireland we will always helps our clients draw up their birth preferences after meeting with their birth doula for an antenatal visit. We listen to what is important for our clients and offer information on evidence based care that will enable them to be aware of what they might want to include in a birth preference sheet. We would always encourage clients to have some birth preferences to facilitate improved communication between clients and staff. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 25

What a jam packed week this has been. On Saturday it was my good friend Michelles 40th birthday. We went out for a lovely meal in The Dog House, Howth. This is a really quirky little spot and it has a special place in my heart as myself and Paul had our wedding meal there ;)

Another of my friends, Aideen got engaged this week. Her partner Colin went all out and the proposal was the stuff out of a movie with candles and flowers everywhere. She shared a video on our group chat and we were all bawling! Truly delighted for them. Plus this means we now have two weddings to look forward to (as our friend Ruth and her partner Brian got engaged a few weeks ago!) 

My father-in-law got news that he needs more surgery and also that they would need to go deeper this time so he would need to stay in hospital. We were all shook by it but kept a brave face for him. I took time off from my postnatal doula work from Monday-Wednesday to bring Bren and Cindy (my parents-in-law) to the hospital. We went Monday for them to speak with his consultant and get a game plan. This resulted in us waiting around most of the day to see if they could admit him there and then. At 4pm we got the word he could go in fasting the next day for surgery and he would be in hospital for a few days. Bren was happy to get home and we were all tired by then. 

The following day he had his surgery, he was gone for 5 hours so myself and Cindy went to town to pass the time. We did a small bit of shopping and had lunch before returning to James’. Bren was out of surgery and doing much better than we thought he would. We stayed with him for the afternoon and after dropping my mother-in-law home, I crawled onto the sofa around 8pm and conked out! Paul woke me to go up to bed and I had a good sleep. 

After dropping the kids to school the next day I went back to James’, where we had the great news that Bren could go home. The team were delighted with his recovery. They are happy they got all the cancer this time, but he will be back in 3 weeks for more biopsy results just to be 100%. All in all it was fantastic news. Bren looked great, his colouring and everything was so much better. Perhaps it was the relief!

I had a nice afternoon with the kids, sorting out their bedrooms and listening to Christmas FM. The next morning was my GTT (glucose tolerance test). If you follow DoulaCare Ireland on social media you will have seen my posts keeping everyone updated. You can scroll back to 21st December to read them. Our blog on the GTT test is available here . 

After I left the hospital I went straight to my sons school to see his carol singing. It was really lovely and helped bring on the festive feeling. I even collected Leon early so he could come with me too. 

On Friday the boys went to collect holly with my mam and her partner, which they loved. They came back full of muck and fresh faced. It was great as I was due to work a night so I could grab some sleep! I did the night shift and in between caring for the twins and sorting the house, I enjoyed feeling my baby somersault around and kick. She really is a very active baby and I am loving feeling her move so much! Leon is interested watching her move, he thinks its cool seeing my belly. Leon is suggesting Anna as a baby name, Seth really likes Robyn. We still haven’t really felt that ‘wow’ moment yet with any girl names but sure we have loads of time! 

Next week is Christmas! I can’t wait to see the boys faces on Christmas morning. It just makes Christmas having kids :) 

Until next time....Jen x

Week 25: What Is Happening To Your Baby

This week your baby is the size of the cauliflower

This week your baby is the size of the cauliflower

  • Your baby is the size of a cauliflower this week 
  • They are laying down more fat and hair this week 
  • As your baby gets more fat, the wrinkled skin gets smoother so they look more like a newborn baby. 
  • Your baby is now peeing frequently (and this passes into the amniotic fluid, so that most of the amniotic fluid is in fact sterile urine!)
    • Your baby's brain, lungs and digestive systems are now developed though they are not quite mature yet. 

Week 25: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • You may notice you are slightly unsteady as your bump grows, this can be due to changes in your centre of gravity. Pilates and Yoga which works on your posture can help give you good balance. 
  • Oh dear! Your OH may complain about the noise levels in the bedroom as your snoring gets louder! 
  • Frequent urination. As the baby is getting bigger, so is the pressure on your bladder 
  • Warm up surges: Also more commonly known as Braxton Hicks contractions. While they usually aren't noticeable until 28 weeks, some Mums will start to feel them from around this time period. They usually go after you change position (so if they don't give your GP a ring). 

Week 25: Pregnancy Tip

DCI Pregnant Couple .jpg

The tips this week are aimed at your partner - so they can help you and make your pregnancy a more comfortable one. So get them to read this bit!!! Partners can help out by doing more around the house, running a nice bath, offering to give you foot rubs, lower back rubs or a nice neck and shoulder massage (this will not only be useful for pregnancy but extremely useful during labour). They can also listen to you - this is such a huge time of change and while it may be exciting there can be lots of other emotions involved as well. Keeping up the romance is hugely important during your partner's pregnancy. Surprise her with a trip away or a nice dinner out, and make lots of nice memories together as a family of 2 (if it's your first), before baby arrives. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 24

So this week I had a full week of postpartum clients and scheduled phone calls to follow up on. I love that I am feeling better in myself and can still be out supporting families. We have a great mix of clients at the moment (with different backgrounds, ages of children and personalities) So no two days are the same and I really enjoy chatting away with each client, catching up on their news and supporting them with the help they need to make life with a new baby that bit less stressful. 

Picture of the Queue in the Rotunda that circulated on social media around the same week I attended

Picture of the Queue in the Rotunda that circulated on social media around the same week I attended

I had my 24 week check up in the Rotunda public clinic, where I was due to speak with their community midwife team to see if they will accept me. I arrived to an unbelievable queue. Not only was the waiting room to check in full but there was a queue of pregnant women standing all down the hall as far as the clinic waiting room. There was at least 40 women ahead of me.... just to check in!! I really was shocked as some of the women were heavily pregnant and struggling to stand in a stuffy corridor. (It was freezing outside so most of us were bundled up too which didn’t help ;) 

Eventually I made my way to the check-in desk and I was told to take a number and I would be called by consultant. I explained I was due to speak with the team and so she told me to find a midwife at the nurses station to chat to. I did find a midwife and I was told very bluntly that there was no appointment for me to plead my case as there was no point. As Leon was 4.53kg they would not accept me. I then asked about the NBAC clinic and I was told their cut off point was 4kg. I was so stunned by this attitude. I questioned why, in a healthy pregnancy I could not have antenatal care in the community, because one of my babies was over their criteria?? She simply said it was out of their scope of practice, which is absurd. All they do is check my pee, my blood pressure and measure my bump. Surely they could do that and if they were concerned about anything I would happily go to the hospital. There was no talking to them. I did ask why I had to wait until 24 weeks to find this out, as when I spoke with the community midwife team, when choosing which hospital to book, they didn’t seem to have a problem at all. Again very unhelpful, I received an 'it is what it is' type answer. 

I was bitterly disappointed. I wasn’t sure if I was going to cry or boil over with rage, not just for me but for all the other pregnant women using this hospital. Women do so much better with midwifery led care and it is such a shame that a previous “big baby” can put a woman who has a healthy baby and pregnancy in every way into high risk for her antenatal care. I sat another hour and a half waiting to be called, fuming over the system and how women are treated. 

When the consultant called me I went in, still bubbling under the surface. He seemed to think that because the baby is a girl she will be smaller and there is no way she will be 10lbs (surely this is not evidence based at all but interesting to hear a total conflict of their reasoning for not allowing me the care I requested) I spoke with him about my options and he did a similar thing explaining ‘hospital policy’ and so forth.  He did say I had a 90% chance of vaginal birth as I laboured well with both boys and reached the second stage with Leon before a caesarean was required. He reassured me that there would be no pressure on me for a caesarean birth and hopefully everything should go as planned. 

I felt a bit better about this at least, but as I have seen time and time again with doula clients – everything is grand until 38 weeks arrive and then the discussions begin about caesarean, risk with VBAC, big baby and so on. We will just have to wait and see what happens. He said he would like to see me again in 4 weeks so I queued again for 15 minutes and asked for an appointment. The lady was so unhelpful. I was asking about times that I could work childcare and she said I would just get the next available slot.

I decided there was no way on Earth I would do that queue every appointment, so I walked over to the semi-private clinic to see would they take me on. The receptionist there was so lovely. She couldn’t have been more accommodating. Booked me in for a date and time that suited me and cancelled my public appointments. She even moved my GTT to the semi private clinic so I could "relax there, as the rooms are much quieter" -  I wanted to hug her! 

So I left feeling deflated but glad to have the public system behind me. I will think about my options over Christmas. I may make a few phone calls to the Coombe and see what is available there. 

Santa Visit.jpg

After a crazy week it was wonderful to get out for the weekend. Paul and I took the kids to Causey Farm Santa Experience. It was really amazing, they made it such a special experience and the kids loved it.  We left feeling very festive and even got a take away as a treat on the way home. We all snuggled up after to watch a movie and I for one so needed this day to just switch off and remember what is important. 

The kids went to Butlers chocolate factory with my mam and her partner on Sunday, which they loved. They came home delighted with their chocolate santas. While they were at that I did a mad dash to Blanchardstown shopping centre to get some Christmas shopping done. My tummy has been a bit sick the last few days so I had to keep stopping for breaks but I got the bulk of it done. 

Baby is moving around lots and you can now see my tummy moving with her. Paul gets a little freaked out by this which I find hilarious - he thinks it’s like an alien LOL. He likes to know she’s moving and doing well but doesn’t want to see it!

Until next time... Jen x

 

Week 24: What Is Happening To Your Baby

Your baby is the size of a cantaloupe melon this week 

Your baby is the size of a cantaloupe melon this week 

  • Your baby is really starting to put on weight and fill out this week and they are about the size of a cantaloupe now. 
  • Their lungs are developing branches in the respiratory tract as well as cells that produce surfactant, a substance that will help his air sacs inflate once they are born and start breathing in air. 
  • Your baby's skin is becoming much pinker and less see-through as they develop.
  • Your baby's brain is also growing rapidly now and will continue to develop at a enormous rate over the next few weeks

Week 24: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • If there are any concerns about Gestational Diabetes you will usually have your Glucost Tolerance Test around this week. You can read more about it in our blog post here
  • You may have lots of backache now as your muscles are having to work harder to carry the extra weight. You could try getting some body work done with a physio or osteo, or treat yourself to a nice massage (just make sure the therapist is trained in pregnancy massage and can accommodate you). 
  • Dry eyes can be a symptom some women suffer from in pregnancy. This can be accompanied by irritation and a feeling of grittiness. Talk to your optician about how you can make this less uncomfortable 
  • Some women will suffer from Piles/Haemhorrhoids during their pregnancy - they can be the result of becoming constipated and increasing the amount of fibre and fluids in your diet can help. It can also help to avoid sitting for long periods of time. Talk to your GP if they are severe as you may need some medication to help relieve the pain. 

Week 24: Pregnancy Tip

There is a huge amount of breastfeeding support around Ireland - find out where you can access support before baby arrives 

There is a huge amount of breastfeeding support around Ireland - find out where you can access support before baby arrives 

Are you hoping to breastfeed? If yes start looking around for a good breastfeeding class you can attend. You may find your hospital run these but they can book up fast, and it's really helpful to take a class before baby arrives. It's also useful to find out where your supports are and get in touch with them beforehand as well - this way you will know who to contact if you should need some extra support after. Friends of Breastfeeding offer a Buddy system, whereby a trained Mum will come out and support you in the early days of breastfeeding. It's such a great idea and completely free - so definitely worth booking. Cuidiu have regular breastfeeding support groups around Ireland as well as trained breastfeeding counsellors who are available by phone to provide support and a listening ear. (Both Mary and Jen are Cuidiu Breastfeeding Counsellors). La Leche League also run support groups around Ireland have their Leaders are available to offer breastfeeding support as well. So do make contact and if you can at all once you are on maternity leave, pop into your local group and say hi. Pregnant women are always more than welcome along and it's nice to meet other Mums who are breastfeeding before your baby arrives. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 23

This week was a good week. Bren (my father-in-law) is recovering well after his surgery. He is resting and just waiting to hear results. This week my belly has really ‘popped’ and I feel great having a propper bump. I am feeling much better in myself overall. I am much more tired with this pregnancy than with the boys but I am 10 years older than when I had Seth so of course that makes a huge difference to my body! I rarely get sick now and the nausea is mostly a thing of the past. I do feel sick when I am really tired and still have to be careful what I eat. I tried a cup of tea this week, hoping above hope I could manage it again as I really miss my cups of tea....but alas no. I managed 2 sips and felt sick so had to stop. It didn’t even taste nice! This is another new experience for me. With Leon I went off tea for the first trimester but as I entered the second I could enjoy it again. 

I started with another new DoulaCare Ireland client this week who has booked one of our 100 hour postpartum packages. It’s lovely to work with the really small newborns and helping to make that time really special for the family. I am part of a team of 3 doulas who will offer them the care, information and support to truly saviour this experience. 

Getting organised for business meetings concerning DoulaCare Ireland 

Getting organised for business meetings concerning DoulaCare Ireland 

I also had an important meeting on Wednesday to grow the business end of DoulaCare Ireland. I am really enjoying the mix of work, putting on my business clothes and heels for meetings and yet still being able to offer hands on support to new families doing what I love. Myself and Mary are planning our CPD day for January too – which is really exciting! We will have a packed day chock full of information including skill sharing - with 12 doulas on our team we have an amazing group of women with a huge amount of knowledge and skills to share with all of us.  We also have a wonderful photographer - Brid O Donovan, coming to do professional shots of our team members. We will keep you all informed as plans expand. 

I did one night shift to help out one of our clients who was let down by a nanny agency. All our Postpartum Doulas were booked up so I stepped in to make sure our clients get the best of care at all times. I have to say I struggled to get through the night and it did knock me for a day or two after. I am glad I took the decision to stop nights a while ago and mind myself and baba more. 

Next week I have a check up to plead my case for community midwives or NBAC clinic! Hopefully it all goes well... wish me luck ;) 

I will fill you all in next week. Until next time....Jen x

Week 23: What Is Happening To Your Baby

Your baby is the size of a Papaya this week 

Your baby is the size of a Papaya this week 

  • Your baby is the size of a Papaya this week 
  • Your baby will be gaining a huge amount of weight over the next few weeks (they will double their body weight over this time period). 
  • Your baby's bone marrow is making blood cells this week (up until now the liver and spleen were doing this). 
  • Your baby is becoming increasingly active now and loud noises may make them jump (not because of fear - it's more of a reflex right now). Their ears have developed so well they can now hear noises such as a dog barking or a loud car horn beeping.
  • Their improved hearing means they can also hear your voice really clearly, as well as your heartbeat. Don't forget to chat or sing to them and get them used to the sound of your voice. 

Week 23: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • You may find you have swollen or bleeding gums. Increased blood flow during pregnancy can make your gums more likely to swell or bleed. It's usually normal and nothing to worry about - but like always if you are concerned do check in with your dentist (and use a softer toothbrush). 
  • You may find your iron levels are low so you might have to try and get extra iron - either from increasing the iron in your diet, or from taking an iron supplement. This will stop you from getting anaemia (which happens when your body doesn't get enough of the iron it needs to produce your red blood cells, it can leave you weak, dizzy and short of breath - so if you do feel any of these symptoms contact your GP). 

Week 23: Pregnancy Tip

Are you reading any Pregnancy or Birth books. Our top recommendations are:

The Irish Better Birth Book  - one of the few books that cover the practicalities of birth in Ireland 

The Irish Better Birth Book - one of the few books that cover the practicalities of birth in Ireland 

 

The Irish Better Birth Book by Midwife and GentleBirth founder Tracy Donegan. It's very easy to read and full of useful information about birth in Ireland. Most of the birth books we would recommend have a US or UK focus so it's great there is a book that focuses on the Irish system and the options women have in this country.  Highly recommended by us here in DoulaCare Ireland and we can guarantee you will  have lots to think about after reading it, and have a huge amount of information that will help you prepare for your birth in a positive way and make informed decisions regarding the care you choose. 

 

  

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin is a great read for both you and whoever is going to be supporting you on the day of your birth. It is a fantastic resource. (It is actually the main textbook for the DONA doula training that Mary helps Tracy Donegan co- teach in Ireland every year.) There's useful tips about how to support you during each phase of your labour, and pictures of positions that you can take that can help with birth, as well as information about interventions that might be suggested and the pro's and con's of each of them. 

The Birth Partner  - Penny Simkin  

The Birth Partner - Penny Simkin  

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is THE book to read if you are hoping to breastfeed your baby. There is so much information in here - you really won't need to read another breastfeeding book. 

Ina May's Guide To Childbirth. This is such a lovely book. There is a wealth of birth stories at the start and one of the things I love about it is how varied they are. They are written by women who came to The Farm (the childbirth centre that Ina May established) to have their birth, and no two are the same. I think for any Mum having a baby they show how different birth can be for everyone. The book is also a childbirth education book and contains lots of useful information that you can use to help draw up your birth preferences when you are ready. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 22

Sending their letters to Santa

Sending their letters to Santa

This week was a very mixed week. We had our first week of feeling like it’s almost Christmas! We attended or community Christmas fair, where they had lots of stalls, carol singers and the annual tree lighting. We met some friends at it and the kids really enjoyed themselves. There was a lovely atmosphere around and a great sense of community. After the tree lighting we went up to Pauls parents for the kids to send their Santa letters (as a tradition we put the letters in the fire and the magic brings them to Santa – Paul always did this as a child so we have carried it on) The toy show was on Friday which is always a real mark of Christmas beginning for us. We had treats and hot chocolate and all snuggled up together on the sofa. 

Earlier in the week my father in law had surgery to remove the tumour on his voice box. I went and spent the day with my mother in law as they were both very nervous. It was a long day but Bren was allowed home that evening and we were all relieved to have it over. They took some biopsies and we will go to get the results in 3 weeks. It’s an awful wait but hopefully we can keep his spirits up and it will all be behind us by Christmas. 

Wednesday I was back to work doing what I love. Then Thursday was my mother in laws birthday. Myself and the kids always bake for family birthdays. Seth decided he wanted to make scones, which he did all by himself. I just helped with measuring and put them in the oven. Myself and Leon made a yummy chocolate cake. Once Paul was home from work we all went up and got an Italian take away and had cake. It was nice to mark the day and lift all our spirits. 

Chatting to the newest group of doulas taking their DONA Postpartum Doula Training with the amazing Ann Grauer from  Nurturing Doula Dreams. 

Chatting to the newest group of doulas taking their DONA Postpartum Doula Training with the amazing Ann Grauer from Nurturing Doula Dreams. 

On Sunday I went in to speak with the newest group of DONA Postpartum Doulas training with the amazingly skilled Ann Grauer of Nurturing Doula Dreams. They were a wonderful bunch and I am excited for the parents of Ireland to have access to their support. Three of our birth doulas were there, expanding their knowledge and skills – which is fantastic as they can now offer Postpartum support too! As always it was great to catch up with Ann who was my trainer and has been my mentor ever since. She is such an inspiration. 

So over all it was a funny week. Some low moments but also lots of highs. I have been feeling very tired this week but that is probably all the emotion too. Baby has been kickng lots and lots and it is lovely to get that reminder that baba is there and doing so well. 

Until next time...Jen x

Week 22: What Is Happening To Your Baby

Your baby is the size of a coconut this week 

Your baby is the size of a coconut this week 

  • Your Baby is the size of a Coconut this week 
  • By this week your baby is starting to resemble a very tiny newborn baby. 
  • Tooth buds are developing under their gums
  • Your baby's lips, ears, nose, eyelids and eyebrows are becoming more distinct and you can clearly distinguish them. 
  • Your baby's grip is becoming stronger and they may hold tight onto your umbilical cord (which is perfectly fine for them to do btw so no need to worry about that). 

Week 22: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • You may notice changes to your nipples and and the areola's around them. You may find them getting bigger and darker. 
  • You may find yourself going up a shoe size! Yes your feet can grow when you are pregnant by half a shoe size or more (I was a size 6-6 and a half before I got pregnant and I am now a size 7!!!). 
  • Your innie belly button may have now become an outtie (but don't worry it won't be permanent). 
  • Your hands and feet can start to swell this week - this can be due to an increase in the amount of fluids in your body. If it's minor it's usually normal but if it's severe and sudden you do need to mention it to your GP as it could be a sign of a serious complication of pregnancy: pre-eclampsia. 

Week 22: Pregnancy Tip

If you find your hands are swelling it's a good idea to take off your rings and keep them somewhere safe - just in case it gets too hard to get them off as the weeks progress. You don't want to have to cut them off you. Some women like to put them around their neck in a necklace to keep them safe and nearby. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 21

I started this week off at my local Cuidiu Breastfeeding support morning. As one of the volunteer breastfeeding counsellors it was my turn on the rota to cover the group. There were lots of small babies there, some with a few issues, so thankfully one of the other BFC's - Orla -attended. Everyone left with their questions answered, a few cups of tea and some cake in their bellies so all around a good morning. I love giving back to our community in this way and hope that breastfeeding rates will grow with the support. 

Straight after the group it was off to a postpartum client on the South side. This client was a lovely new mum, a paediatric nurse herself – who just wanted a sounding board and some help with the big ‘firsts’ like bathing and cutting nails! It was a lovely shift. 

After my shift I drove to Drake Chiropractic Clinic in Sandyford, run by the very knowledgable Ros Drake. I had been meaning to try it out as Seth was OT and Leon was OP so I always wondered was there a reason within my pelvis for their positioning. While I laboured to 10cm and pushed, Leon was a caesarean birth in the end – so I imagined with all the pushing and pulling my body was probably in need of some realignment. I know Ros from attending conferences together and I was not disappointed with her care. She was professional and friendly and explained everything as she went. It was the strangest sensation as she readjusted different parts of my body. No pain but as I heard the cracks and my neck/back/hips etc moving that little bit further than feels comfortable part of me resisted. I did feel good after and was happy to hear that things were looking pretty good. On Tuesday I had Leon at the fracture clinic in Temple Street to review his broken toe. There was still a noticeable crack but they were happy with the healing process and said in 3 weeks time he should be 100% again. We don’t need to go back again unless we are concerned about anything (as Leon has been pretty much walking on it as normal since it happened I think we are good!) 

Then of course on Friday we had our anomaly scan! There was a good wait as the Rotunda are starting their online charts system (meaning patients no longer have their paper chart and every department logs into their system on a computer and writes notes there) I feel it’s a good thing as every department has access and there will be no missing charts. It does however mean that we can no longer snoop in our chart and see what they have written about us! I guess I will have to wait for after baba is born when I request a copy of my notes. At least with everything typed I will be able to decipher the doctors writting unlike Seth and Leons charts. 

You can request a copy of your hospital notes for you and your baby under the Freedom of Information Act 2014.

Our little girl at 21 weeks 

Our little girl at 21 weeks 

At our scan we found out that our baby is doing perfect. Myself and Paul were both so relieved as I have been so sick I was worried baby would have been lacking in the correct nutrients. The sonographer said she hadn’t seen such an active baby in a good while and that baba wouldn’t stay still (sure I knew that with all the movement I have had recently) After watching the chambers of the heart pump the blood, and seeing all babas organs, checking measurements and so on, we found out that we are having a little GIRL!! I couldn’t believe it. I really thought we would have another boy. Paul was very quiet, so when we left I asked was he disappointed. He said of course not, but he was terrified. He said he doesn’t know what to do with a girl – he only knows how to parent boys. So after a good chat he has come around to the fact it is a new adventure and we will learn together. 

Seth was absolutely thrilled with the news as he had decided he wanted a sister. Leon was not so impressed – as he ‘doesn’t want girl stuff all over the house’ LOL! My mother and grandmother were thrilled and Pauls parents cried down the phone. Babies can bring so much joy to a family unit and I am so excited for next year! Now to start thinking of names... Any suggestions will be gratefully received. 

Until next time...Jen x

 

Week 21: What Is Happening To Your Baby

  • They are approx the length of a carrot this week
  • They are becoming extremely active inside with lots of kicks and nudges as they somersault around your womb. Baby has more control over their limbs so this movement will be more co-ordinated. 
  • Your baby now has very clearly formed eyebrows and lids. 
  • As their taste buds are now developed there's a good chance that whatever you eat this week - baby will taste it too! 

Week 21: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • Due to the increase in oil production in your body you may find yourself suffering from acne. Talk to your GP about what you can do. Most over the counter oral acne medications cannot be used during pregnancy. 
  • Your heartburn or indigestion may be getting worse
  • You might be able to feel warm up surges (or Braxton Hicks as they are often called). This is totally normal as long as the surges disappear when you switch position. If they don't give your GP or HCP a ring. 
  • Your skin can develop stretch marks. Despite what the cosmetic companies will promise there is no way to get rid of these if they develop. You can improve the condition of the skin by keeping it moisturised. Mary has a lovely Nourishing Bump Blend which feels and smells lovely on the skin and is completely natural and safe for you and baby. 

Week 21: Pregnancy Tip

Don't forget to leave some time to pamper yourself during your pregnancy. Especially if this is your first pregnancy. You will never have this time again or the luxury of having nobody else to worry about. So book yourself in for a lovely pregnancy massage, or a spa day, or get your nails done - what we find pampering is different for everyone, but whatever it is - make time for it now. Some Mums will enjoy going for regular reflexology or acupuncture - it can feel lovely and also help with the pregnancy aches and pains. Many Mums will attend Pregnancy Yoga classes and these can be a lovely way to meet new Mums, take some time for yourself and pamper yourself as usually with a class like this women say they feel amazing after it. Body work such as going to an osteo may not be pampering but it can be something that helps you to feel better in your body and can also be great for positioning of baby - so this can be helpful to try as well. What you choose of course has to be something that you enjoy, or feel good about going to and gives you a lift. Enjoy yourself whatever you choose. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 20

This has been a great week. I am feeling good in myself and coming through the sickness. I am eating a wider variety of food and feeling like my energy is up. This week my herbal remedies from Cork arrived. I have been taking them and hopefully they will help to build me up. 

I have been focusing on growing DoulaCare Ireland and this week I attended some fantastic meetings that will hopefully open up amazing opportunities for us in 2018. I will of course keep you posted once deals are done ;)

I had postpartum clients two full days this week and then my lovely November birth client needed me. She was admitted unexpectedly as at her 39 week check they found her waters to be extremely low, which her care team explained could be a sign of the placenta failing. Her induction began on Tuesday, I spent 6 hours with her helping herself and her partner to get their head around the situation. We all sat and chatted and I was a sounding board. We listened to GentleBirth tracks, joked between us, and ran through questions to ask her care team. Once all their questions were answered my clients were happy to consent to induction. 

Reasons for low fluid (oligohydramnios) can include:

  • Mothers waters are slowly releasing
  • Being more than 42 weeks pregnant
  • Medication mother is taking
  • If baby has a medical problem with their urinary system

Other common reasons for induction include:

  • Post dates – babies approaching 42 weeks gestation
  • Advanced maternal age – women 40 years plus
  • Big baby – often a guess weight
  • Issues with placenta (coming away from wall of uterus or not working efficiently)
  • Waters have released without labour begining

Some of these reasons can be negotiated and navigated with your care team - it can be helpful to be aware of the current evidence surrounding best practise for some of the reasons mentioned above (which is where taking an independent antenatal class can be such a help as these issues are usually covered. Classes that the hospital offer tend to focus on what the hospital policy is rather than what is evidence based care).  

I popped back to my client on Wednesday, after a postpartum shift for a few hours. Again we spent the time chatting and supporting my client in getting into the right head space. On Thursday things kicked off so I spent most of the day with them, and their beautiful baby was born at 6.15pm in such a positive end to what was a long  process. It was very emotional as this will more than likely be my last birth client for a long time. I am getting too big myself in pregnancy and once baby arrives I know I would not be comfortable being on call. It was a wonderful birth to end on and I am still on a high. They are such a lovely family and I look forward to our postnatal meet up in the next week or two. 

During the birth it was so lovely to be welcomed into the maternity unit. On 3 separate occasions midwives came to say hello when they heard I was the doula on the ward. This is just so wonderful to have such good relationships with the staff and it really helps to grow the feeling of a birth support team around parents. When we went up to postnatal ward I was again greeted with fantastic midwives who remembered me from past clients. It was all a really positive experience and I am so thrilled to end things for now on such a high. 

Also one of my good friends Ruth and her boyfriend Brian got engaged this week while on a romantic sun holiday. I am so thrilled for them both and you could feel Ruths joy and excitement bursting through the photos in our whatsapp group! (Ruth was sone of the girls I went away with a few weeks ago, we have been friends a long time) Ruth moved up north to live with Brian so I am unsure if they will have the wedding up there or perhaps even in the sun somewhere fab. It’s always nice to have a wedding to look forward to :) 

My baby has been moving so much and on Thursday night Paul finally felt baby kick :) We were thrilled. I can’t wait for the kids to feel too. 

Next week we have our ‘big’ scan. We are hoping to find out babas gender too. I will fill you all in more next week...

Until next time....Jen x

* * * * * * * 

Week 20: What Is Happening To Your Baby

Photo by  Mike Dorner  on  Unsplash

Photo by Mike Dorner on Unsplash

  • Your baby is the size of a bananna this week
  • This is the last week baby will be measured from 'crown to rump' (they were measured like this because their legs are curled up in a foetal position - from next week however measurements will be taken from top of head to tips of toes!). 
  • Your baby is swallowing more this week - really helpful for their digestive system 
  • Your baby is starting to produce meconium - this is a greenish black sticky substance that will accumulate and be stored in their bowels and you will see it when they first pass this in their nappy (or if you haven't managed to get the nappy on them, it might end up on you or your birth partner!!!). Some babies will pass meconium in your womb or during the birth.
  • Your baby is forming sweat glands this week

Week 20: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • Woo hoo!!! You are now half way through your pregnancy (more or less!! Baby may not arrive until 42 weeks!!!). 
  • You could be snoring for the first time ever!!! Blame those hormones again. The increase in Oestrogen can result in the mucous membranes in the nose swelling. It can help to sleep on your side and elevate your head slightly. 
  • Sleeping can start to become very challenging from this week. See our Pregnancy Tips below for some ideas on how to help your sleeping. 
  • You may find you have a vaginal discharge which is getting more noticeable as the weeks go on. This is normal and you can expect it to keep increasing until baby arrives. It helps keep bacteria at bay. It it becomes green, yellow or starts to smell do let your GP know. 

Week 20: Pregnancy Tip

It can be tough to get a good night's sleep when you are pregnant. Some things that can help are: 

Sweet Dreams Blend .jpg
  •  Listening to the Sleep Sanctuary on the GentleBirth app. It is very soothing and Mums will often find they drift completely off having listened to it. Do yourself a favour and get yourself some SleepPhones if you are listening to the App regularly btw - they can help with the sleep because they are not as uncomfortable as ear buds.
  • Mary's Sweet Dreams Essencia Blend is also a great blend of aromatherapy oils to help promote sleep. It's safe to use when pregnant, smells amazing and is especially designed to help you relax and drift off - and works great in conjunction with the Sleep Sanctuary track. A body pillow can help ease aches and pains and make you more comfortable in bed. Switching off the phone at least half an hour before you go to bed can help as well. And trying to grab a cat nap during the day if your sleep is disturbed is important so you don't get too exhausted. 
  • Check out this EUMom article from GentleBirth founder Tracy Donegan to get more tips to help with sleep. 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 19

This week was lovely. Over the weekend I turned 19 weeks and went away for a night with my good friends. We all worked in a restaurant together in our teens and have been friends ever since. I was the first of the group to have children, but over the last few years the girls have started to grow their families and none of us get to see each other as much as we used to. We have meet ups for birthdays, weddings and christenings but rarely go out randomly. So once a year in November we have a girls night away.  This year we went to Dunboyne Castle Hotel.

As my November birth client just turned 37 weeks I drove my own car rather than car pooling just in case I had to leave (last year I had to leave the Monart to go to a birth!)  Of course for both mentioned clients I have back up doula support,  but when it’s your birth client you want to be there for them, no matter what. 

We all met in the lounge and had a quick bite to eat and a chat. Then we checked in and went down to the spa. It is a bit crap when you’re pregnant at these things. I couldn’t use most of the rooms, or the jacuzzi but enjoyed lying around on the heated beds relaxing. I also used a nice foot spa and some scrubs. 

Night away with friends in the gorgeous  Dunboyne Castle Hotel  

Night away with friends in the gorgeous Dunboyne Castle Hotel 

We had a lovely meal but I wasn’t able to eat much. It tasted so good but I just felt full and was also feeling a bit sick. The girls enjoyed wine and I was content to have a Coke followed by hot water and lemon. There are studies out to suggest any alcohol in pregnancy could potentially be harmful to a developing baby so I have always erred on the side of caution and avoided it completely during pregnancy.  

We stayed up chatting until 3am so I was shattered the next day but it was lovely to catch up with everyone. 

Monday marked back to normality. The kids were back in school so there was the usual search for school uniforms and a mad dash to Lidl for lunch box essentials. I was the breastfeeding counsellor for our branches breastfeeding support morning. You can find your local Cuidiu group here http://www.cuidiu-ict.ie/supports_breastfeeding_breastfeedinggroups It is always great to try get to a breastfeeding group during pregnancy. Other options are

Leon, my 6 year old broke his toe in a play centre this week, so we spent a whole evening and into the night in Temple Street. His toe/foot is very swollen and bruised so lots of TLC for him. I have been giving him Arnica and running epsom salt baths. He is super brave and strong, he is just getting on with it and hasn’t complained at all. It’s getting him to slow down that is the challenge! I borrowed a buggy from a friend for a week or two in the hope that if we are out we can use it for a bit to give him a rest. 

I have another busy week meeting clients to talk about bookings for the New Year and also have postpartum clients all day Wednesday and Thursday. It is good to be back into the swing of things while also having a balance and making time for self care. 

Until next time.....Jen x

 

Week 19: What Is Happening To Your Baby

  • Your baby is approx the size of a mango this week
  • Your baby is developing all of their 5 senses this week - the areas for smell, taste, hearing, vision and touch are all expanding massively. 
  • Your baby's arms and legs are in proportion to each other and the rest of their body this week. 
  • The vernix caseosa is forming on your baby - this is a greasy, white, protective coating that helps protect baby's skin in the amniotic fluid. They may be born covered in it btw - and this is good for them (so no need to wipe it all off as it can protect their skin in the early days outside your body as they get used to clothes and nappies and air etc). 

Week 19: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • You may find yourself suffering from round ligament pain - this can feel like a sharp stabbing pain in your lower abdomen, or it may not be so severe but can be uncomfortable. See our pregnancy tip below for how this might be alleviated (and check with your GP if you have any worries about the pain there). 
  • You may notice parts of your skin are darker than others (caused by a temporary increase in pigment). When these patches appear on your face they are known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy' (they usually fade shortly after you have your baby).  Do make sure to protect your skin when out in the sun and keep it in the shade. 

Week 19: Pregnancy Tip

If you are experiencing round ligament pain it might be helpful to start trying some Spinning Babies Techniques. Spinning Babies offers exercises that can restore balance in your muscles and pelvis (and therefore can often help with optimal positioning of baby) and also relieve discomfort throughout pregnancy. There's a lot to take in on the website but the main exercises are known as the Three Sisters. A number of our DoulaCare Ireland doulas have taken the Spinning Babies training and it's a great tool to have in their toolbox of support. It is something they will be happy to show to yourself and your partner during one of their prenatal meetings (if you are interested in finding out more). 

 

What is the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT):

Many women will be recommended to get the GTT by their Health Care Provider. GTT stands for Glucose Tolerance Test. The GTT tests for Gestational Diabetes, which is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. With this type of Diabetes,  normally symptoms subside once your baby is born. If a mum has GD (Gestational Diabetes) she is more susceptible to developing Type Two Diabetes later in life. 

Why are some women offered the GTT?

There are certain risk factors that make you more susceptible to developing GD. If you have any of these risk factors, your antenatal care provider may suggest a GTT to screen for markers. 

Risk factors for GD include:

  • High Body Mass Index (BMI of 30 or higher)

  • Previous large baby (above 9lbs or 4.1kg)

  • Women older than 25 years

  • Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

  • You had GD during a previous pregnancy, or you had an unexplained stillbirth in the past.

  • Family or personal health history. Your risk of developing gestational diabetes increases if you have prediabetes — slightly elevated blood sugar that may be a precursor to type 2 diabetes — or if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has type 2 diabetes.

  • Race. For reasons that aren't clear, women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian are at higher risk to develop gestational diabetes.

So what is involved if you agree to take a GTT? 

Methods can vary slightly from each hospital, but they remain generally the same. The woman is asked eat her normal diet for the days leading up to the test and to fast for 12 hours before the test (this includes no water). She is then asked to attend an appointment with her Health Care Provider early in the morning (usually around 7.30am). 

You will receive a fasting blood test, as well as 2 more blood tests at hourly intervals with a Glucose Tolerance Test

You will receive a fasting blood test, as well as 2 more blood tests at hourly intervals with a Glucose Tolerance Test

The test then begins with a fasting blood test. After this the woman is given a jug of lucozade or high sugar drink. She is expected to drink this over 10 minutes. The woman is requested not to eat or drink anything else until the test is fully completed. 

Your care provider will then take two more blood tests at hourly intervals to monitor how your body metabolises sugar. You will be expected to stay in the clinic during the testing process so it is a good idea to bring a book or laptop (as I can imagine 3-4 hours sitting there while starving is not fun).

After the test you will be free to head home,  and as you will have been fasting it is probably a good idea to grab something to eat before you hit the road. 

The blood tests are analysed very quickly and you will be contacted the same day if there is any abnormalities showing up. Most hospitals do not contact women if the test is normal so no news is good news in this situation ;) If you are not contacted you continue with you antenatal appointments as normally scheduled. 

 

What are the pros and cons of agreeing to take a GTT?

Pros:

  • If you are found to have GD, it can be carefully controlled to avoid any complications, most women with GD give birth to healthy babies with no complications. However GD, if not carefully managed does carry risk to mother and baby.

Cons:

  • It is not pleasant to fast for 12 hours when you are pregnant.

  • Drinking a full jug of sugary and processed lucozade is not something most pregnant women would choose to do.

  • Blood tests are uncomfortable.

 

Complications that may affect a baby if their mother has uncontrolled GD:

High birth weight – Babies with a birth weight above 9lbs statistically have higher chance of complications during birth. This includes interventions such as ventous or forceps and increased instance of caesarean births. It is important to note that many women can and do give birth to high birth weight babies without complications or interventions (we all know the pressure women are under if they have a ‘big baby’ during scans, GD or not). 

Low Blood Sugar (hypoglycaemia) – Sometimes babies born to mothers with GD develop low blood sugar shortly after birth because their own blood sugar is too high. Lots of regular feeds or in some cases a glucose drip can help to return babies levels to normal. Again it is important to note, many mothers feel pressure to top up with formula if this situation arises, even when their wish is to exclusively breastfeed. These mothers can hand express extra colostrum or breast milk to offer their baby instead. Some mothers with GD choose to express some of their milk antenatally, to have milk for baby after the birth.

Early (Preterm) birth and Respiratory Distress Syndrome – Babies born early may need help with their breathing until their lungs mature. Also, even babies born at term to mothers with GD are at risk of having respiratory distress syndrome. A mothers high blood sugars can put extra strain on babies body as they fight to maintain a normal level. 

In extreme cases untreated gestational diabetes can result in the death of a baby.

 

Complications that may affect a Mother from having uncontrolled GD:

  • High Blood Pressure and Pre-eclampsia – Gestational Diabetes increases your risk of high blood pressure. It can also increase a mothers risk of preeclampsia which can be life threatening to both mother and baby and usually requires birth by caesarean even before term.

  • Future Diabetes – Having Gestational Diabetes increases a mothers risk of getting it in future pregnancies. It also increases risk of developing Type Two Diabetes later in life. Making healthy life style choices such as eating well and exercising can decrease instances. Breastfeeding your baby is also shown to reduce both mother and baby's risk of diabetes later in life.

You do not have to consent to a GTT. It is your choice to make an informed decision – weighing up the pros and cons and deciding what is best for you and your baby. I hope this blog has helped you to understand risk factors and the process of the test itself. 

Doula Jen 

Jen Crawford, Co-Owner & Founder DoulaCare Ireland.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING: 

HSE https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/D/Diabetes,-gestational/Testing-your-glucose-levels.html

AIMS http://aimsireland.ie/the-glucose-tolerance-test-gtt/

NICE guidelines https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/new-thresholds-for-diagnosis-of-diabetes-in-pregnancy

WHO guidelines http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/85975/1/WHO_NMH_MND_13.2_eng.pdf

Irish Health http://www.irishhealth.com/clin/pregnancy/conditions02.php?con=574#pregnancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 14

This week was a good week. We had our booking in appointment with the Rotunda. As I am hoping to be with the Community Midwives I had to book in under the public system. 

Our Baby - Week 14 Ultrasound

Our Baby - Week 14 Ultrasound

We were seen to at each area pretty quickly. First I had to answer some questions at reception and receive my chart. I also signed an application for the Rotunda to request a copy of my medical notes from Holles Street (NMH) for my first two births. Then myself and Paul went down to a different waiting room for a scan. This was just lovely. We saw baby doing somersaults and waving and a good strong heart beat. Baby looked like a real baby as opposed to the peanut we saw in our early scan. All seemed well and the lovely sonographer printed out lots of pictures for us to being home and show the boys :)

We then had to go to the midwives desk where I had my blood pressure and pulse taken, and had to give a urine sample (by the way the pots they use now are significantly narrower than before and extremely hard to aim for while hoovering over the loo! What were they thinking with that new design?!) 

We then had to wait to see a midwife to go through my medical history. A lovely midwife called Ann introduced herself and said she was just waiting for a room and then we would get everything sorted. We waited about 10 minutes and then she called me in. Paul was not allowed to come into the room for this, which I found strange but went ahead. We had just started when someone knocked and needed the room so we were booted out! Back out to the waiting room and half an hour later Ann still hadn’t managed to find a free room, so she sent me to get my bloods done. Thankfully we only waited about 5 minutes for this and in the meantime I had to nip to the bathroom to get sick.

Another 15 minutes passed (and yet another trip to the bathroom to be sick) and then Ann found a room. We filled out the form in about 10 minutes. I highlighted my desire to have midwifery led care as all the evidence shows that women have better outcomes. She totally agreed but as Leon was an emergency caesarean birth she couldn’t book me in. So she has scheduled a meeting for me with the community midwife team to plead my case....and I am crossing fingers they will take me on! 

If the Community Midwives won’t take me on I can attend the NBAC clinic within the hospital or change to semi private.  I will wait and see when I get the appointment and make a decision then. 

As we spent 3 hours in the public system at this appointment I’m not keen to do that each time, however I do get that there most likely wouldn’t be the same wait on future appointments. 

This week was also Pauls birthday so we had family over for take away and cake and showed off our baby pictures. Then myself and Paul had a lovely night away on Saturday while the kids had a sleep over with their Grandparents. Fitting in clients alongside all this,  meant it was a busy week but very happy.

Overall a great week. Still lots of nausea but I am getting sick less....hopefully we are turning a corner (touch wood!). 

Until next time.....Jen

Week 14: What Is Happening To Your Baby:

Photo by  Brigitte Tohm  on  Unsplash

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

  • Your baby is now the size of a peach.
  • Your baby has eyebrows.
  • Your baby may have some hair on their head and is now covered with lanugo (a thin, fuzz like hair all over that will keep their body warm). This will start to fall off before baby is born (though some babies will not loose it until after the birth). 
  • Your baby is drinking your amniotic fluid and their kidneys are working so they can pass urine.
  • Your baby can now make facial gestures. Inside they are frowning, grimacing, squinting and smiling (awwww!).
  • Your baby's liver starts to make bile this week.
  • Their spleen is now producing red blood cells.

Week 14: What Might Be Happening With Your Body

  • You may notice your hair getting thicker and shinier. 
  • You may notice you are gaining weight now more rapidly.   
  • You may notice a dark line running down the centre of your abdomen. This is called the linea nigrea and will start to fade after the birth of your baby. 
  • Some of the early affects of pregnancy (sore breasts, nausea, lack of energy), should all be now gone by this week. 
  • However, other symptoms may start occurring! Some women find they get nasal congestion around this time, as the increase in blood flow around your body can cause the mucous membranes in the nose to swell. 

Week 14: Pregnancy Tip: 

Is it a boy or a girl? Do you want to know this beforehand? It can be helpful to start thinking about whether or not you would like to know the sex of your baby now, as with your next ultrasound (around the 20 week mark), you can choose to find out. There are pro's and con's to both finding out and waiting. So perhaps yourself and your partner can sit down now and discuss what you would like to do. If you decide you want to wait until the baby is born, make sure you let your sonographer and HealthCare Provider know so that they don't inadvertently say it to you! And if you decide you want to know - do be aware that sometimes the scans will get it wrong (so you still may get a surprise at the end!).